Americans Relaxing During the 911 Attacks

Americans Relaxing During the 911 Attacks

Thomas Hoepker’s 9/11 Photo

This image shows a group of Americans relaxing during the 911 attacks on New York City. Their lack of concern has created much controversy in the media. The New York Times said that this image depicts “America’s failure to learn from the tragic day, or to change and reform as a nation.”

Do you think that a significant portion of the American public failed to recognize the TRUE significance of the 911 attacks?


10 thoughts on “Americans Relaxing During the 911 Attacks”

  1. The picture itself is not exaggerated but I do not think this reflects that people are lack of concern to terrorist’s attack but because they are totally not anticipated for such an serious accident to happen. Besides,this picture seems to be reflecting people’s behavior just as the accident happens, so this fails to reflect whether people are unconcerned about 911.

  2. Agreed. I think that if we were to understand the background behind the image it could possibly make more sense. Is it just a picture or an advertisement? Who took the picture? What is the premises behind the image? With that being said, I don’t necessarily believe that the American public failed to recognize the significance of the attacks. I believe that many simply did not want to face what had happened and face how despicable of an atrocity the attacks actually were. Maybe this image is symbolic of that; America’s denial.

  3. Completely agree with the above comments. Furthermore, I think it just seems to be a picture in which the timing was perfect to the lack of reaction to the attacks of 9/11. If there were pictures taken minutes of the same people after they realize what is happening, there would be more of an accurate reflection of what they believe about the event as it happened. In addition, this picture adds to the fact that the 9/11 attacks were surprising to many people as they carried on their normal lives in a normal day which was transformed into a national tragedy. So no, I don’t think this reflects accurately how the public feels about 9/11, rather it reflects the normalcy of life before the events and the unexpectedness of the attacks.

  4. On the New York Times comment, it would seem (from the perspective of those that perpetrate or attempt to perpetrate acts of terrorism against the United States) that the “reform” we should make is to stop existing, thus making the NYTimes comment fairly short-sighted. Many (not all) of the people we are currently engaged in combat with overseas quite simply want us to leave them to deal with their own affairs (despite the fact that they clash with typical western moral standards, such as the treatment of women in said societies, but the discussion of the validity of the wars is a different topic than the one here). The problem is that those people fighting from within their own country against “foreign invaders” are not the same people actively trying to strike directly at US soil and civilian population, and are a different subset of the Muslim population (much like the millions of peaceful Muslims are not the same as the hardline extremists). Those people tend to hold much more extremist views, and preach the elimination of all western “infidels” for not being followers of Islam. Keeping this in mind, its important to note that saying “America’s failure to learn from the tragic day, or to change and reform as a nation” quite possibly means, once you consider bias, either a) America’s failure to conform to the reform lobbied for by the New York Times, b) America’s failure to conform to the reform preached by the extremists responsible for the attacks (and subsequent attempts), c) America’s failure to reform our foreign policy to prevent such acts in the future (which would be difficult given the borderline cult status that surrounds many extremist leaders) or d) any other valid interpretation I have failed to describe above. Regardless of one’s personal political opinions, it is hard to argue that America has not changed to respond to the events of 9/11 (either for better or worse), and thus I would say that the NYTimes comment was poorly thought out (at least taken in the context given).

  5. Their reaction does not seem inappropriate to me in any way. What were they expected to do, hoist up giant hoses and go fight the fires? They are looking on, presumably with shock, at a terrible scene in a way similar to how I would most likely myself respond. They look confused and helpless, knowing they can not do anything to change the situation.

  6. I don’t think this picture is as concerning as a lot of people presume it to be. I remember on that day all any onlookers could really do from a distance was look on. I do think that 9/11 ignited a personal worry in most Americans for the safety of their country and the people living in it. I also believe 9/11 impacted the culture of most Americans and instilled a sense of nationalism into most people. At the time especially, most people felt a sense of patriotism towards America and ensuring protection in our people. I do not think this picture reflects the attitudes of most Americans but just shows how helpless most people were at the time of the attack.

  7. I concur with the previous comments, what i would like to further add is another premise the onlookers could have. It’s possible at this point, which seems to be right when it happened, they had no incline to think it was a terrorist attack it could be a mere fire for all they knew and in todays society a fire wouldn’t affect everyone as opposed to the possibility of a terrorist attack. This in no way verifies that the American public has failed to learn from tragedy, quite the opposite, during annual remembrance there’s a gross amount of public support and sympathy. Lastly, when this incidence occurred, the public outcry led the government to take certain measures to prevent such a thing from reoccurring.

  8. I think that the image shows what most people experienced. The people are away from the disaster, not directly impacts, but are stopped. Their bodies all appear to be positioned to watch the towers, but at the moment of the photo, some of them turned around, probably discussing the attacks. They don’t show a lack of concern or knowledge, but an inability to do anything about the events. Americans everywhere couldn’t do anything accept watch and try to comprehend. This people are doing just that, sitting and discussing to understand.

  9. I also think that this picture is representative of the last moments of an American consciousness: the one before 9/11.
    The consciousness of this country and the world changed that day–these people are no more than witnesses and participants to that change. To me, they sit on the edge–living in the moment, suddenly about to be thrust into a world very different than the one moments before. Their temporary unawareness seems impossible to us now, but this moment that defined history was unprecedented–nothing like 9/11 happened before or since. This image depicts the happiness of the previous American consciousness in the moments before the world roared down upon it and changed it forever.

  10. This is a microcosmic view of Americans, and is therefore unrepresentative of the total population. However, it definitely can be seen as analogous to the American perception of our own “immortality”, in a very negligent way. Americans believed that our nation was invincible and therefore had very little to worry about. This complaisant attitude could lead to images like this, but on an event this catastrophic I highly doubt that there would be any sort of full ignorance of what was happening.

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